UK suspends extradition treaty with Hong Kong


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Media captionForeign Secretary Dominic Raab warns Beijing: “UK is watching and the whole world is watching”

The British government will suspend its extradition treaty with Hong Kong “immediately and indefinitely”.

Announcing the decision, Foreign Minister Dominic Raab said the UK “wants a positive relationship” with China.

But he said that Beijing’s “imposition” of the new national security law in Hong Kong was a “serious violation” of the country’s international obligations.

The Labor Party has said it will support changes to the law, calling it “not in the right direction.”

The Extradition Treaty means that if someone in Hong Kong is suspected of a UK crime, UK authorities can ask Hong Kong to bring them to justice – and vice versa.

The UK is concerned that the agreement – which has been in place for over 30 years – cannot see anyone extradited to Hong Kong being sent to China.

Mr Raab also confirmed that the government would extend its arms embargo – which has been in place with China since 1989 – to Hong Kong, preventing the UK from exporting equipment such as firearms, smoke grenades and shackles in the area.

But China has accused the British government of “brutal interference”, insisting that it is determined to uphold international law.

The country also promised a “resolute response” if the UK withdrew from extradition agreements.

‘UK is watching’

Beijing introduced the security law at the end of June, creating new offenses that could see Hong Kong residents sent to mainland China to stand trial.

Critics have said that pro-democracy protesters in the region could be given life sentences.

Raab told MEPs, “There is still considerable uncertainty as to how the new national security law will be applied.

“I would just say this: UK is watching and the whole world is watching. ”

The Foreign Secretary also confirmed that plans to obtain British citizenship for around three million Hong Kongers would be in place by early 2021, in accordance with the law.

However, border forces officials were given the opportunity to grant leave to all applicants before that date.

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Media captionTea, drugs and war: Hong Kong’s British history explained

Political and economic relations between the United Kingdom and China have become strained in recent months.

Mr Raab spoke of a number of tensions during his speech, including the UK government’s decision to ban Chinese firm Huawei from the country’s 5G network.

He told MEPs: “We will always protect our vital interests, including sensitive infrastructure, and we will not accept any investment that jeopardizes our internal or national security”

The Minister of Foreign Affairs also expressed “grave concern” over “gross human rights violations” committed in the Xinjiang region of China against Uighur Muslims after reports of forced sterilization and of a larger persecution of the group.

He said they raised the issue with his Chinese counterparts and with the United Nations.

Raab added: We want a positive relationship with China. There is a lot to gain for both countries, there are many areas where we can work productively and constructively for mutual benefit.

“For our part, the UK will work hard and in good faith to achieve this goal. But we will protect our vital interests, defend our values ​​and hold China to its international obligations. “

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Media captionChinese Ambassador to the United Kingdom Liu Xiaoming Denies Reports of “Concentration Camp” in Xinjiang

The treaty amendment has been welcomed on all sides of the House.

Shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy said the Labor Party had “warmly welcomed” the measures, saying they should lead to a “new era” in relations between the two countries.

“This should mark the beginning of a more strategic approach of China based on an ethical approach to foreign policy and the end of the naivety of the ‘years of the golden age'”, she told the deputies.

“Like him, our quarrel is not with the Chinese people, but the erosion of freedoms in Hong Kong, the actions of the Chinese government in the South China Sea and the appalling treatment of the Uyghur people are reasons to act.

“We will not be able to say in the years to come that we did not know that”.

But some called on the government to go further.

Liberal Democrat MP Alistair Carmichael wanted action on imports from China – particularly around surveillance equipment – while SNP’s Margaret Ferrier called for sanctions against those responsible for human rights violations.

Members of the seat of government also urged the next steps.

Conservative MP and former Defense Minister Tobias Ellwood said, “For decades we have turned a blind eye to the democratic deficit and human rights abuses in China in the hope that it will become a global citizen. and responsible. [but] this clearly did not happen.

“May I ask the Secretary of State, is this now the turning point where we abandon the pretense that China shares our values, given its actions… [and] can we have a strategic overhaul of our foreign policy towards China? ”

Raab said the government is carrying out an integrated review of its strategy.


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